The Government of Delhi has been making various efforts to bring down the pollution levels in the capital, which is also one of the most polluted cities in the world. The National Green Tribunal will be hearing the case on ban of diesel vehicles today.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT), which handles cases pertaining to environmental issues, is to hear the diesel vehicle ban case today in the capital, New Delhi.
Earlier in July this year, the tribunal had asked the transport authority – the Regional Transport Office – to cancel registration of diesel-fuelled vehicles that were older than 15 years within Delhi. The news which appalled many, hogged the headlines. The orders had come after the failure of Delhi Police’s constant efforts to get rid of pollution-causing vehicles from Delhi roads. Despite levying fines and impounding vehicles, the issue didn’t get solved entirely.
The Union Government had on July 29 challenged the NGT’s order to phase out diesel vehicles, saying there was no legal provision for the move. Vehicular emissions are the main cause of air pollution and diesel is one of the biggest contributors.
India’s apex court, the Supreme Court (SC), stopped the registration of new vehicles with engine capacity of 2000cc and more, and has ordered all taxis fuelled by diesel to switch to using the Compressed Natural Gas.
Efforts to curb rising toxic air levels in Delhi
The odd-even rule, which saw an outcry from daily commuters, required people to drive cars with odd-numbered registration plates on odd dates of the month and even-numbered registration plates on even dates. The idea was to not just reduce pollution but also the congestion and the bumper-to-bumper traffic that chokes Delhi roads. The government also deployed more public transport on roads to give alternative transportation modes to people.
There was a 100pc hike in the green cess on commercial vehicles entering the capital. The SC-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority had directed Delhi government to install boards notifying the new cess in 125 toll booths across Delhi. Commercial vehicles which are registered before 2005 were banned from entering the national capital.
The NGT issued directions to all authorities asking them to strictly implement orders regarding the ban on burning of waste and fine on emission of construction dust. In another order, the NGT directed the state government of Delhi and the governments of surrounding states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to ban the burning of crop residue.
The NGT asked the central and state government not to buy diesel vehicles for its personnel. It also asked public administration departments and municipal bodies to take efforts to gradually phase out diesel vehicles.
Although a subject of scrutiny for the benefit of society, the ban has come across as a cause of worry for automakers fearing losses and joblessness. According to a report by an Indian daily, about 4 lakh diesel vehicles with 2-litre or larger engines are sold in the country annually and the ban in the NCR has already resulted in a production loss of 11,000 vehicles, affecting 5,500 jobs, including at dealerships, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). Had the ban been countrywide, it would have led to a loss of 47,000 jobs, it estimated.